Shu-Ha-Ri – The Martial Recipe

In studying, practising and teaching karate, I have come across the concept of Shu Ha Ri a few times. Of course my mind latched right on to it, because it is a neat way to explain vast concepts. Anything that offers an elegant shorthand is basically catnip to the instructor-in-training. Of course, Karate by Jesse…

3 Fun Ideas for Teaching Kids Karate

In my journey as a deshi, I have been given some great opportunities to come up with clever ways to get complex concepts across to kids ranging from the age of 5 to 15. I’d love to share these ideas, and hear back from other deshi students and instructors if they have had success, and…

Returning to the Dojo

One missed class can easily become three. Three classes becomes a month. Then six. Then a year. And then there’s a day when you open your cupboard and there is your gi, hanging up and gathering dust. Waiting. (And silently judging you.)

Episode Two: Love, Lobola and Taxis

For this episode, I chatted to my dear friend Stanford, who is a man of great wisdom and who always offers valuable insight into the heartbeat of South Africa. In this episode we discuss lobola, the Republic of Henley on Klip, the vast differences between Joburg and Cape Town minibus taxis, male circumcision  in South…

Doilies, Vases and Greek Life Lessons

It all began with a doily, and a vase. My yaya, a woman who has caustic wit and very thin eyebrows, had come over from Cyprus to stay with us. Two days into her visit, the world’s ugliest vase (origins unknown) and a crocheted doily suddenly appeared and made themselves comfortable upon a stylish Art…

Obituary: Kazuo Chiba, 1940 – 2015

Even though I no longer formally practice Aikido, it is a martial art that still matters to me, and one I often think of. I still miss it, and not just because of the hakama. Recently, T.K. Chiba shihan passed away. He was one of the few living disciples of Aikido’s founder Morihei Ueshiba and his son…

Women Warrior Series: The Dahomey Amazons

Not long ago in West Africa, there was a warrior clan so fierce, so hardened and so unbelievably tough that it took the might of an industrialised nation just to slow them down.

What the Dreaded DNF Can Teach Us

It was the sickening realization that even though I trained, and followed the programs, I would not finish the race. Because no matter what they say, sometimes your best just isn’t fucking good enough.

I Fight Like a Girl

I may be a lone voice in this, but I really want to bring this rallying cry into the martial arts, and especially in karate. I hate hearing ‘you punch like a girl’ being leveled at boys, that anything feminine is inherently weaker. It is one of the reasons why we see such an attrition of young female budo-ka.

Dear Adult Beginners: It Gets Better

But as an adult beginner, the constant corrections are overwhelming, and sometimes humiliating. It’s hard not to feel like a failure, and to think that no one else has ever been this bad at karate, or aikido, or judo, or whatever you choose to do. But you know what? There isn’t a senior who wasn’t a junior, and who doesn’t learn every day from the junior students they teach. You’re not slowing anyone down by asking for help.